The influx of refugees into Europe and how countries can deal with the crisis was a major topic at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
Still, the grand plan remains elusive.
David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, speaking at the annual forum of the rich and powerful at the Swiss mountain village, said, “my biggest takeaway is that people are scratching their heads, saying what would be our plan. My answer would be: you’ve got to deal with the symptoms and not just the causes.”
To that end, Germany’s Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schauble, suggested a Marshall Plan for the countries seeing the huge exodus.
Billionaire investor George Soros said such a plan is essential, as the European Union is facing an “existential crisis.” He described the migrant and refugee situation as akin to a “fire in a cinema without exit signs.”
Meanwhile, the man who sets monetary policy for a Europe already besieged with economic problems, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, said it is important not to pre-judge the impact of the vast new migration to Europe. He said, “What refugees are for Europe is a challenge, and an opportunity.” Draghi added that challenge will be lost if fear prevails. He continued that government expenditure on refugee programs could be the large public investment project we have been speaking of for years.
Miliband, addressing the fears of security concerns around immigration, from terrorism to criminality, and speaking about refugees coming from places like Syria, said: “They know terror. They are less likely to become terrorists. These people are the victims of terror so they are not in the least bit attracted by it.”
Miliband added that the U.S. has an organized pipeline, which is certified by successive Homeland Security secretaries, that says this is a safe way to bring people in.
At another Davos panel, lively debate took place, with one side arguing growth in Europe cannot be sustained without migration, that migration greases the wheels of capitalism, and another cautioning that if Europe takes in more than it can digest, a political crisis incubates. But how much is too much? It was argued that a continent with more than 500 million people can surely absorb another million annually.
Most everyone agrees that integration is key. As one panelist pointed out, “most of the ‘foreign fighters’ Europe sends to Iraq and Syria are the children and grandchildren of migrants. We have to ask, ‘where did we go wrong?’ in terms of integration.”
Miliband said the best thing that people can do for the refugees arriving in Europe and the United States is to mentor them. He said that while there has been some “toxic rhetoric” around the refugee issue, he also has witnessed many individual acts of kindness on behalf of Americans welcoming refugees to the United States.
Amy Kellogg currently serves as a Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent based in the London bureau. She joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999 as a Moscow-based correspondent. Follow her on Twitter: @kellogglondon
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